February 22, 2020
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Poll Science Major & A Math Whiz Too

Turned the Congress Brahmin-Muslim-Dalit formula on its head, bringing BSP to power and returning UP to single-party rule after more than 20 years

Poll Science Major
& A Math Whiz Too
Jitender Gupta
Poll Science Major & A Math Whiz Too
If one man symbolises the process of Brahmin empowerment by other means, it’s 57-year-old Satish Chandra Mishra. Son of a high court judge, he first came to Mayawati’s notice as a lawyer and so impressed her that she appointed him as the state’s advocate-general in an earlier stint as chief minister, and in late 2004, invited him to join the party.

It was then that Mishra crafted the BSP’s Brahmin strategy, which brought the party to power in 2007, returning UP to single-party rule after more than two decades. He did this by turning the Congress’s decade-old Brahmin-Muslim-Dalit formula on its head: now, the Dalits would lead the combine. "The Brahmin-Dalit combine disintegrated in the Congress because the Congress used Dalits as a votebank," Mishra had said in an interview. "Unlike the Congress, we in the BSP chose to establish a complete social integration between the two communities." Of course, the low-key, reticent Mishra is always quick to say he was merely implementing Mayawati’s strategy, shrewd enough to know that no one in the party can be larger than the leader.

But regardless of whose idea it was, Mishra was the one who realised it. In the run-up to the 2007 assembly polls, he addressed as many as 98 Brahmin sammelans and travelled to all of UP’s 70 districts to constitute ‘Brahmin-Dalit bhaichara banao samitis’. The party’s new communally harmonious slogan—"Haathi nahin Ganesh hai, Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesh hai!"—was heard first at the Feb 2005 sammelan in his hometown Allahabad. Mayawati gave him a separate helicopter to campaign in, a fact his caste fellows noted with approbation. The Brahmins were back in the game.

After the elections, Mayawati briefly made him a cabinet minister, before deciding he might be more useful to her in New Delhi to further her national ambitions. So she made him a Rajya Sabha MP. Mishra used his time well, forging cross-party friendships. Two years on, as general elections approach, Mishra is now working with other parties in the Third Front to ensure that his boss can make the transition from the Lucknow Sachivalaya to South Block.

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